A Very German Christmas

A wooden German Christmas ornament

Since moving to Wiesbaden in 2010, my husband and I have split our Christmasses evenly between Germany and England.  Sometimes we’ve done it quite literally, spending Heiligabend (24th December) in Mainz, opening our presents in the glow of my in-laws’ candlelit tree, before flying to London for turkey the next day.  More recently, we began alternating between spending the entire festive period in one place or the other.

This year, for the first time, we were not in Europe at all: having set up camp across the Potomac river from Washington, DC for twelve months, we celebrated a sort of British-German-American Christmas, thousands of miles from home.  We spent Christmas somewhere foreign to all of us, decorating our Virginian tree with someone else’s ornaments, hanging a wreath on our interim front door, and happily merging our native and family traditions to create a new version of Christmas, all of our own.

German potato salad

The food we cooked and ate together, as it turned out, was almost entirely German in origin.  We kicked off Heiligabend a little early (it officially begins at 6pm), nibbling on Pfeffernüsse and drinking cups of hot black tea as we unwrapped parcels on the floor by the tree.  We kept dinner quite simple, as is customary in Germany, enjoying my husband’s excellent Kartoffelsalat alongside wild boar and bacon sausages.  Having roasted a turkey for Thanksgiving, I was keen to serve up a different bird on Christmas Day, so for dinner that evening, we carved the breasts off a crispy, succulent roast duck and ate them with rather avant-garde looking Kartoffelklöße (potato dumplings) and a spoonfuls of deep purple braised red cabbage.  And as our German landlord had kindly left us a Lindt Christmas Santa as a welcome gift, we polished that off for dessert.

Quartered oranges, herbs on a chopping board and a whole raw duck in a roasting tinWe visited friends on Boxing Day (26th), taking a slightly tweaked version of Luisa Weiss’s dunkler Kirschkuchen (spiced chocolate and cherry cake) from her new book, Classic German Baking. It was a rich, chocolatey triumph, devoured by all with glee.

Spiced Chocolate Cherry Cake in a baking tin

More on that next time, including Luisa’s recipe, which was just too good not to share.  Until then, I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday period, whatever and however you celebrated, if anything at all.  I’d love to know what you ate…

9 Comments

  • So you had a Danish Christmas lunch really then? It all sounds perfect. I was speaking to someone recently who is English, but who has always had their big feast day on the 24th so they can all just relax on the 25th! Might copy that next Christmas! We enjoyed a barbecued turkey for our final Bavarian Christmas, it means I have the whole oven free for everything else! 😀

    • Ha! My cousin recently told me she used to go to some Danish folk for Christmas, she said they had roast goose but always started the meal with a huge pot of rice pudding with a whole almond hidden in it: whoever found the almond and kept it in their mouth without anyone knowing until they’d all finished the whole pudding won a prize, but she suspected it was all just a ploy to ensure no-one wanted to eat much goose and there’d be plenty of leftovers for the next day! Barbecued turkey sounds brilliant – how long does that take to cook?!

  • Happy New Year! Your meal sounds so delicious! We always had our Christmas dinner on the 24th (being partly Swedish/Norwegian) and we opened our presents that day, so Christmas day was very low key.

  • Hi my name is Jordan. I am a high school student from the United States studying Germany. For an assignment I needed to find a blog that taught me more about German culture and I stumbled upon this page! I was excited to see this blog about German food and German recipes. I also think that the comments that you write help me to visualize living a daily life in Germany. I hope to one day travel there! I wanted to ask you a few questions about German culture if that is ok! What is your favorite German tradition? What is the community like? Is there a rich culture where you live? What is the geography like where you live? Also let me just say that these meals look delicious and I am definitely going to try them!! Thank you so much for your time!

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